Cys Bronner | Gratitude Evangelist, BNI Executive Director: You know, each week we meet here, and we discuss one of the pillars of strength.
This Week is Show That You Care, accept responsibility, keep your word, enjoy a little craziness, always think remarkable, and treat with respect, and it is so difficult to choose which one is of more importance, and I would like to share with you that my feeling that each of them create the balance for our pillars of strength. But today our guest is going to be discussing. Show that you care, and I want you to meet somebody that I have had the pleasure of knowing or well. Let’s just say, not long enough. Right. Dave Palmer is the Director of development, for speak up for the poor. and rather than do a long introduction about him, I would love for him to come up. Tell us a little bit about himself and of course Show That You Care through talking about the organization that he’s a part of Step Up For The Poor and also is a part of the BNI Foundation as well.
Dave Palmer | Speak Up For The Poor: Hello everyone, my name is Dave Palmer. I’ve been attending this Forum for the past several months. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, and it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to share with you all today.
I heard about this Forum through Cys Bronner and Dave Rittenhouse. I am a BNI member in the same Los Angeles region as they are.
A little bit about me: I have a wife and two daughters. My wife Mini was born in India, and raised in the United States, where we met. We are about to celebrate our 20th anniversary, two months from now in April. Our daughters, Lily and Emily, are 16 and 14, and are both in high school.
I’ve worked with nonprofit organizations for more than 30 years now, my entire adult career. I lived in India and in Bangladesh for seven years, during my 30s, while I was working with a previous nonprofit organization that focused on poverty alleviation.
For the past four years, I’ve worked with another nonprofit called Speak Up for the Poor, and Speak Up works in the country of Bangladesh, educating and empowering girls who are at risk of child marriage and child trafficking.
I will tell you more about Speak Up in a moment. But first, I’d like to share a few comments.
Every week in this Forum, Norm says, “Be positive, and you will be happy.” And that is motivational, because everybody wants to be happy. Everyone pursues after the things that we believe will make us happy. And part of being happy, is showing that we care. Research finds that two of the biggest contributors to human happiness are (1) helping other people, and (2) having a sense of purpose – a commitment to advancing a good cause that is bigger than just ourselves.
So, not only is helping someone else an investment in a better world; it is also an investment in our own happiness.
Put a smile on somebody else’s face, and you are that much more likely to see another smile, when you look at yourself in the mirror.
I have found this principle to be true both in my personal life and also in my nonprofit career.
People sometimes ask me why I gravitated toward nonprofit work, and I tell them that my father actually had a lot to do with it. My dad is no longer living – he passed away about six years ago. And he certainly had his positive qualities, but he was also, frankly, an old-school male chauvinist. He thought he was better than all women simply because he was a man, and he made sure that women knew it. Out of his compulsion to assert his superiority, he treated my mom and my sisters and others very poorly – even abusively. He didn’t do a good or consistent job of showing that he cared! And growing up in that environment, I could see that not only was my dad making others very unhappy, he was also a very unhappy person himself.
In my teen years, I decided I wanted a different life and legacy than my dad’s. My dad used his power to push others down, to maintain his position on top. I came to see that a better and happier way to live was to use whatever power I have to help raise others up – especially those who are pushed down and held down by people in power — those who face exploitation and marginalization.
This has led me to a career in the nonprofit sector, and to my current work with Speak Up for the Poor.
I’ll tell you a bit more about Speak Up: The country of Bangladesh, where we work, has the world’s highest rate of child marriage for girls under age 15.
Think about a girl being given in marriage at 12, 13, or 14 years old. In the United States, where I live, this would be a middle school girl, maybe a freshman in high school. It’s obviously not in that girl’s best interest to be married or bearing children of her own at that age. But in Bangladesh where we work, this is common, and it leads to so many negative consequences for girls – including the premature end of her opportunity to go to school, the perpetuation of gender inequality, and higher incidences of infant mortality, maternal mortality, and domestic violence.
So, in this context, Speak Up runs a Girls Education Program for impoverished girls who are most at risk of child marriage and child trafficking – the “GEP” that you see on the girls’ folders in this picture is for “Girls Education Program.” And the GEP is currently helping more than 2,000 girls and young women in Bangladesh to stay OUT of child marriages and child trafficking situations, and to stay IN school all the way through college graduation, so that they can become educated professionals instead of uneducated child brides, pursue their own dreams, rise out of poverty, and have a much brighter future than they otherwise would have.
We currently work in 35 village and urban slum communities in Bangladesh, and in each of them we have built one-room schoolhouses, called Learning Centers. The Learning Center is a dedicated space right in the village or urban community, close to the girls’ homes, where they can study and receive tutoring, mentoring, and training from our staff every day after school.
We also have several dormitories for young women in college and nursing school through the GEP. And the dormitory provides room and board in the city, in close proximity to various colleges and nursing schools, so that young women in our program have a place to stay as they pursue their higher education.
Here I am outside of one of our dormitories with some of our college students.
The GEP has been operating in Bangladesh for 11 years now, and so far it has produced 26 college and nursing school graduates – young women who have come up through our program since grade school ten or eleven years ago.
Six of our nurses are pictured here. And apart from the GEP, in all probability none of these young women would have ever finished high school, many would not have even finished middle school, much less graduate from nursing school or other higher education.
We currently have 230 other young women studying in college, nursing school, or other higher education through the GEP – so in the years ahead we will have many more graduates.
These GEP students and graduates are changing Bangladesh. They are inspiring examples in their communities of what girls and women can do when they have a chance to stay in school. They are changing the common cultural assumption in Bangladesh, that girls are “less than” boys. They are elevating the status of girls and women in a context where they are often undervalued and marginalized.
There are so many different ways to show that we care. Every day we can do something to show kindness, compassion, and care to a person whose path crosses ours. Every expression of care is valuable and important.
Speak Up’s work with girls and young women in Bangladesh is another beautiful expression of this value of showing that we care, and of helping to make the world a better place. If my sharing today stirs an interest in you, and you would like to hear more about our work, or even hear how you can partner with us to help another girl stay out of child marriage and in school, I’d love to be in touch with you.
My contact information is on the screen and in that chat. So is the Speak Up website, where you can learn more about the GEP, or partner with us if you’d like to.
We currently have more than 300 girls on our waiting list, hoping to join the GEP as funding allows. Please let me know if you’d like to hear more.
Thank you so much for listening, and thank you for caring about these girls and young women… Show that you care, and you will be happy! Thank you.